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Be on your guard when planning vacations

Summer is fast approaching and who among us does not enjoy an annual vacation, an impromptu trip, a cruise, a foreign destination, or even a day visit into the closest mega-entertainment center?

Getaways can refresh the body, mind and spirit like a dip in a pool on a hot summer day — unless that pool is full of sharks. Here are some hints to assure that your vacation swimming is done in safe waters.

Avoid any offer that comes to you via the phone, doorbell or Internet

Falling back upon the “nothing is free adage,” the FREE vacation … isn’t. The free airfare … isn’t. The free lunch/dinner … isn’t.

Travel infomercials can be dangerou$

They tend to be chock full of buzzwords; those that make bargain hunters salivate. Discount, zero interest, ( __ ) percent off, no payments until ( __ ), lowest price ever, unbelievable (at least they’re correct about this one!), the first 100 callers, etc.

Small print

The concept of full disclosure is seldom profitable to the consumer once s/he wades through the paperwork.

If you require a magnifying glass to figure out what your unbelievable deal actually includes, or if more than half of the words used contain four or more syllables, beware.

Ticking clocks

“This price is only guaranteed for the next 30 minutes. If you do not agree right now, some other lucky dog is going to get YOUR fabulous trip.” Ticking clocks are a very bad sign.

Watch for foreign money exchanges, foreign taxi services and foreign shopping tours

‘Nuff said.

Tourists stick out like sore thumbs

*Do not “wear” your wealth. You might as well wear a big red and white target around your neck as a gold chain.

* Dress down, not up.

* Wallets, if you must carry one, make sure it’s in an inside zippered or snapped pocket.

* Purses are an advertisement for thieves. Ladies, wear a money belt, securely under your clothes and out of sight. Open bags are easy prey and purse straps around your shoulder or neck can be grabbed by a thief on a moving motorbike and possibly cause major injury.

* Always carry small change for small purchases. Never use big bills to buy small cost items.

* And a little modern technology warning. If you have “RFD” chipped credit cards, even one, make sure you carry it in a frequency blocking case. (How can you tell? The older credit cards have mag stripes on the back; the newer ones have silver or gold chips embedded that emit radio frequency signals. If you do not understand the difference, call your credit card company and ask how you can best protect yourself.)

* No matter what kind of credit card you use/carry, do NOT let it out of your sight for even a few seconds.

Do the necessary research so you know who you are dealing with. If you are not computer literate, then ask a trusted friend to assist.

Know the rules in advance

Never leave valuables and luggage in a locked rental car

Bad guys rent cars, copy keys, then lie in wait for the next renter.

Drop by the Pahrump Valley Times offices, 2160 E. Calvada Blvd., for a copy of Leslie Kim’s latest book “123 Main Street … the Scamming of America.” Only $19.95 while supplies last.

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